Thursday, February 25, 2010

Homeward Bound and the Adjustment

She had a lot of energy on the plane! It was a very exciting time for her!

Welcome Home! Thank goodness my friend Sue and her girls were there!! Hubby was running late!

Yippee they arrived!! It was so great to see them!!

New sisters!!

Every older child being adopted is DIFFERENT. We found Sarah to be challenging and I am thinking more challenging than average but NOT the most challenging- it was all very doable.

It is helping me to go through all this while we prepare to bring Emma and Ellie home. I am just wondering where they will fall in the challenging scale?

Sarah was so excited to go to America on a plane! She was all wound up! The flight attendants were so nice but after she spilled her orange juice 4 times and mine twice, they weren't quite as friendly. They had run out of extra pillow for us so we just had to make due!

There was a translator on the plane but she mostly wanted to visit with Sarah and did not share with me what they said. When there was only 5 hours left of the flight I requested her again. This time I was firm and told her exactly what to say and I told her to say nothing else. I was teetering on crabbiness and exhausted. I knew once we got home at 11am sleep was not going to be an option. This is what I had her tell MY daughter "She needs to go to sleep now, when we get home it will be morning and we need to be well rested". I did get a look like "what a mean mom", but Sarah finally sat still and rested.

So we land and walk out to meet the family... NO family... thank goodness my friend Sue and 2 of her daughters were there! 20 minutes later my sister, hubby and the rest of the family show up! A bit anticlimactic but it worked out! Hubby had a lot on his plate and did the best he could!

Sarah loved meeting everyone. We stopped at a gas station to get gas and witnessed an arrest- great first impression for Sarah of her new home! FYI, she still talks about it!

I was thrilled to be home and to be with the rest of the family. Sarah took it all in stride. I loved her new room she thought it was "just okay" and quite lonely. She slept with us (per her request) for 2 months. Then we put a mattress next to my side of the bed for 2 months and then she was ready to get her ears pierced and sleep in her own room!! After 4 months of being alone in her room Sarah welcomed her little sis Anna into the bed next to her! Anna was just moving out of a crib. It went perfectly and without a hitch! They love sleeping in the same room!

When she had been home for 2 weeks she complained of her tooth hurting. After 7 dental appts Sarah had had 2 root canals and 2 beautiful silver crowns. I am sure the toothaches were not helpful in her adjustment. How can someone be happy with a toothache?

Through our translator we told Sarah that Katie would be heading back to college very soon after we arrived home. She stayed 24 hours and then off she went. Sarah was very sad to see Katie go. I felt bad too because I knew she was coming back but I don't know that Sarah understood or believed she would.

It was not an easy transition for Sarah. She outwardly mourned all that she had lost, all that she left behind. We had been given many pictures and she frequently longingly looked at them. I thought about taking them away because they made her so sad but bloggy friends encouraged me to let her mourn and just be there for her. That was very helpful advice. I did not encourage her to look at the pics but I did not take them away from her. As time went by she would tell me about the other children and adults in the pics. She really loved sharing her past!

When Sarah was overwhelmed by sadness and longing for Ch*na she would go sit alone and hang her head. I tried to comfort her but she would push me away. I am sure during this time she felt angry towards me. It started out as true grieving but evolved into sulking and pouting. In the beginning it was a few times a day. It slowly improved and by 6 months she was no longer grieving "her China". The pouting continued but it was only about 4 times a week at the 6 months marker. Sarah has been home for 15 months and the pout/sulk only happens about once every 2-3 weeks. She can pull herself out of it now. PTL !

For the first 6 month Sarah didn't think America was so great, she loves it now!

Because of the language barrier I was not certain that I got the real story but it still was good to talk together. Bit and pieces of the truth were in there somewhere.

It is surprising how quickly the children learn English. After 2 months home she was not speaking any Chinese only a some English. Others were amazed at her progress! I was a bit more critical of it. I mean, when you hear how well "they do", I wasn't sure were I should set my expectations?

Now, Sarah has been home 15 months. She speaks wonderfully but without pronouns, not in full sentences and often the incorrect tense. I notice but others do not! They cannot believe she has only been home 15 months.

She was uncoordinated, lacked muscle strength and experience. She is now an excellent swimmer, fabulous on the playground and can do backbends, cartwheels and almost splits!

Watching her progress is like reading your favorite novel and you just can't put it down because you have to know what's next! It is downright fun being the mom in an older child adoption!


Mandi said...


What a truly beautiful story. I have really enjoyed reading this. You have taught me so much about older child adoption, maybe I will be calling on you for more pointers in the future.


Jill said...

Jean- What a great story! I have realy enjoyed reading all of this! Thank you for being so open and honest with all of us. I was curious about how Anna handled all of this. She looks so sad in your arms at the airport, but I am sure there could be a MILLION reasons why, from something very simple (didn't have a nap) to something deeper (sibling rivalry?). I would love to hear about Sarah's interactions with her siblings....
:) Jill